T.S. Eliot is one of the most influential names in the literary world. ‘Song’ by T.S. Eliot is one of his lesser-known poems but it deserves more attention.
‘Song’ can be considered a love poem, but there are some complex metaphors and the philosophy of the poem is not entirely about love.
This poem aims to combine the complex interpretation of nature; space and time, and all the mechanical interpretations of the world with the world of two lovers.
Let’s take a look at the poem first and then at the analysis, meaning, and theme of the poem.
Song by T.S Eliot
If space and time, as sages say, Are things which cannot be, The fly that lives a single day Has lived as long as we. But let us live while yet we may, While love and life are free, For time is time, and runs away, Though sages disagree. The flowers I sent thee when the dew Was trembling on the vine, Were withered ere the wild bee flew To suck the eglantine. But let us haste to pluck anew Nor mourn to see them pine, And though the flowers of love be few Yet let them be divine.
Meaning and Analysis of ‘Song’
The poem is about time and its nature. It talks about the mechanical, realistic interpretation of time and how it is different from what people in love feel about it.
‘Song’ is a very complicated poem that deals with a very complicated topic but in a very poetic and simple way.
Let’s take a look at both stanzas separately to understand the poem better.
Stanza 1: What Sages Say
The first stanza establishes the nature of space and time, and what the sages say about it. Sages here mean the scientists, people who know about all these things much better.
If space and time, as sages say,
Are things which cannot be,
The fly that lives a single day
Has lived as long as we.
But let us live while yet we may,
While love and life are free,
For time is time, and runs away,
Though sages disagree.
The first stanza says that sages say that space and time are an illusion. There was a time when people were trying to philosophize the meaning and reality of time.
The popular notion that emerged was time is something we feel, but it does not exist in real life. So the poet says if that is true, then a fly lives just as long as we do.
Eliot says that even if the sages say that time does not exist, we should not let it all pass by. As long as love and life are free, live it as much as you can.
The poet says that time, even if it does not exist, still runs out no matter how much ‘sages’ disagree with it.
Stanza 2: What Lovers Say
The second stanza is where the series of metaphors start. The poet says that he sent someone flowers but the flowers became dry as the wild bee sucked the nectar away.
It is a metaphor that represents the moments of love the poet spends with his loved one. Perhaps some time that he spent with her turned sour or unhappy.
But then he says to not worry and pluck some more flowers; which means to spend some more moments together in love. The poet also says not to worry too much if a few of these moments are lost.
The poem ends beautifully, saying that while the moments of love are only a few, let each one of them be divine.
Theme and Essence of the Poem
The theme of the poem is about the nature of time, and how it differs for different people.
While time may not exist in reality, and it might be an illusion as scientists and philosophers say, to lovers time really does matter.
Every moment when they are in love is divine, and they must not think much about the moment that went bad or the moment that’s coming.
Love is a phase that makes every moment divine, and one must always remember to live in it as long as love and life are free because time runs out; even if it does not exist, it is limited. That was the poem Song by T.S. Eliot and its analysis.
Also read: The Explanation of Lady Love by Paul Eluard